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Zoom Music Festival Forgets To Unmute

By Asher Hancock:

Throughout the pandemic, I have written piece after piece about the state of the world and have become somewhat of an expert on COVID culture. Most people argue it’s worse than the world we lived in before, while introverts are just kinda vibing quietly. Our nation’s elderly have gone totally off the grid due to their technological ineptitude, and when they do manage to join Zoom calls they are unable to unmute themselves. I spend about fifty percent of the time watching Netflix and the other fifty percent of the time watching Hulu or Amazon Prime video. I tell myself every night that I’m going to read a book but the closest I’ve gotten is watching Parasite which has subtitles. Society is in a rut; 2020 is a year in shambles.

However, just when all hope was lost, I found a poster online for a Zoom concert with performances from some of the biggest artists to ever breathe on a microphone. The headliners included everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Shakira to a hologram of Elvis. I paid the $1,000 admission fee to be accepted into the Zoom call, only to witness what could perhaps be considered the greatest tragedy of 2020 and quite possibly the entirety of human existence.

I signed on to the call, which had an unfathomable amount of attendees, probably the equivalent of all of Charli D'amelio's TikTok followers except significantly less, like only a very small fraction. The first band, The Strokes, was on stage at the time but the call was muted on their end so I assumed they must just be doing a sound check. That might’ve been true for the first few minutes, but once the smoke machines got going and flames started bursting from the stage, it became clear that the performance was well underway.

All of the meeting participants were kept muted, so none of us could alert the host of the issue. Further, there wasn’t anybody near the computer to see the thousands of participants waving their hands frantically. Watching a concert with no music is like watching a movie without volume-- you become extremely aware of the mannerisms of those involved. The Zoom chat became flooded with jokes about how strange the lead singer’s pelvic gyrations were without the music that would normally make them totally rad.

Speaking of pelvic gyrations, the second act of the night was the hologram of Elvis Presley who seemed particularly excited to be there, which was reflected of course in his frequent and enthusiastic pelvic gyrations (at this point, I don’t think the phrase “pelvic gyrations” can be overused). Presley’s hologram was quoted after the show saying, “I’ve never felt so alive.”Interestingly enough, a hologram of Kanye West also performed even though West is still very much alive. It seems as though the real Kanye is just too unpredictable these days. West’s hologram was quoted after the show saying, “Donald J. Trump is both my uncle and my nephew if that makes any sense,” a clear indicator that the real Kanye had gotten to him. Trump responded on Twitter saying “Thanks Kanye, Very Cool.”

Shakira’s performance began about an hour into the show. I have always had a soft spot for Shakira as I’ve always respected the honest reputation that her hips have built over the years. Rumor has it that someone once did a polygraph test on her hips and it has been officially confirmed that they do not lie.

You can imagine how disappointed I was when there was still no sound at that point. It was unsurprising that many people began leaving the call. First it was 5 or 10, but by the end of her set there were only about 100 participants left. As a journalist, I was prepared to take diligent notes about the performances, but without the music all I had written down up to this point was “pelvic gyrations” and “waka waka eh eh.” I also had a pretty good doodle of a cat going but my roommate Clive thought it would be funny to rip it up and tell me I’d never make it as an artist. It’s not like I was planning on becoming an artist or anything, but it was disheartening to know that I couldn’t if I wanted to. (Clive and I had a heart-to-heart that night and talked through everything so we’re good now in case anybody was worried.)

Eventually, I decided to leave the call, but apparently somebody came over to the computer and realized the problem. At that point, there was only 1 viewer left on the call and the only performer left was Weird Al Yankovic which I’m honestly very disappointed I missed. Amish Paradise is my jam. Many of the attendees demanded their money back, but the performers also demanded to get paid for pouring their heart out on stage. It honestly feels kind of fitting that the Fyre Fest of 2020 was held on Zoom and I look forward to the 3+ documentaries that will likely be made about the situation. Shakira, if you are out there, could you please confirm once and for all whether or not your song “Addicted to you” is in fact about me? Thanks.


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